Assigning Odds to Every Potential Buccaneers 1st-Round Pick
The NFL draft is the most elaborate gambling enterprise in existence.
Obviously, there is considerable skill involved in developing an NFL prospect, but at the end of the day, every draft pick amounts to little more than a calculated risk where considerable sums of money are at stake.
The draft has not been kind to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since their 2003 Super Bowl win.
Whether losing their bet on a player's talent or their own ability to develop talented players, the Bucs can only count defensive tackle Gerald McCoy as a truly successful first-round draft choice.
The Bucs' draft position this year poses a real conundrum. Though the roster is riddled with holes, the Bucs may not be in a position to trade down and acquire additional picks to find more starters and improve depth.
This year's crop of first-round talent has been subject to a great deal of speculation, as no one player stands as the consensus No. 1 pick. Such confusion makes it difficult to predict how the draft will play out before the Bucs make their selection at the seventh position.
Here are the odds for the players the Buccaneers should or could target in the upcoming NFL draft.
Over the course of the offseason, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins flew up draft boards and not only became the top wide receiver available but also solidified himself as a top-five pick, according to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller and his big board.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, that puts him just out of reach.
The Bucs find themselves in need of a second starting wide receiver after the trade of Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills. Watkins would be a perfect complement (and inevitable replacement) for Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson.
It would be an absolute coup if Watkins made it past the fifth pick. The St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and even the Cleveland Browns could all use a receiver of Watkins' caliber.
Auburn's Greg Robinson is a beast of a man and, according to Matt Miller's big board, a beast of a tackle prospect. Miller ranked him the top tackle and fourth-best prospect in this year's draft.
Tackles are second only to quarterbacks and arguably pass-rushers in terms of their value on draft day. Robinson's size and speed make him a rare prospect and potentially a future All-Pro.
Though the Bucs addressed their need at tackle by signing former Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Collins, Robinson is simply to talented to pass up.
If he didn't look so good at tackle, Robinson would be the top guard prospect, a huge need for the Bucs. He could cool his heels at guard until the Bucs sort out their situation at tackle, possibly by trading Demar Dotson.
Robinson is highly unlikely to get past the Atlanta Falcons or even the Rams, both of whom need upgrades at tackle. However, he does have a realistic track to the Bucs and could be taken with the seventh pick.
This year's crop of quarterbacks has been maddening to project. The rumors flying about each prospect have been so numerous and so diverse that it's become impossible to discern fact from fiction.
UCF's Blake Bortles is regarded as a top-10 prospect in this year's draft. Matt Miller ranked Bortles the second-best quarterback and eighth overall on his big board.
Bortles has great measurables and possesses a high ceiling that might make him the best quarterback of this class long term. However, he is not ready to start on day one and would struggle if forced into action.
According to WalterFootball.com's Charlie Campbell, the Bucs would take Bortles if he were to fall to the seventh pick, though they would not trade up for him.
It is almost as likely that Bortles would fall that far as not. While the Houston Texans, Jaguars, Browns and Raiders all need quarterbacks, there are other, more talented players in the draft who could be taken in place of Bortles or the other top passers.
Like Blake Bortles, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater could fall just about anywhere. While Matt Miller ranks Bridgewater as this year's top quarterback and best player overall, Bridgewater's fate is far from certain.
The buzz surrounding the Louisville quarterback turned sour over the offseason. After an unimpressive pro day, Bridgewater has come under fire by the likes of former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik, who doesn't believe Bridgewater has all the pieces necessary to succeed in the NFL.
The month prior to the NFL draft is typically filled with smoke. Teams and agents alike "leak" all sorts of "rumors" to shape the draft in their favor before the clock starts. This may be the situation for Bridgewater.
However, when independent analysts like Dominik and NFL.com's Mike Mayock express their doubts, there may be something to Bridgewater's fall down the draft.
No analyst is 100 percent correct 100 percent of the time. Certainly, Mark Dominik's ability to evaluate quarterbacks is dubious given his history with Josh Freeman.
This could be very good news for the Bucs. For as unremarkable as Bridgewater looked at his pro day, his tape tells a different story.
Bridgewater can make all the throws and possesses a mental prowess his peers simply have not demonstrated. If the Texans, Browns, Raiders and Jaguars concur with Dominik's assessment, the Bucs may be able to take the best quarterback in the 2014 draft.
Google "Mike Evans Buccaneers," and the Bucs' odds of drafting Mike Evans become clear.
The Texas A&M receiver is Matt Miller's second-best receiver. He also compares favorably to current Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson due to his size and deep-play ability.
It is likely Evans would be available for the Bucs to draft with the seventh overall pick, in part because Evans isn't quite a top-10 talent.
The Bucs' need for a wide receiver intensified when they traded Mike Williams to the Bills. Drafting for need over value is a dangerous proposition, as it can lead to passing on more talented players.
Best-case scenario for the Bucs to acquire Evans would be to trade down. However, trading down is always easier said than done.
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